WINSLOW — A lot of field hockey teams in Eastern B could win the regional tournament this year — which means you’ll see a lot of games like the one Monday between Gardiner and Winslow.

The two contenders looked as even as could be. Gardiner led twice, but Winslow tied the score with 13 minutes left, then put in the game-winning goal with 3:01 to play for a 3-2 victory.

“Every game, we start off a little shaky, but then we remember what we worked on in practice,” Winslow midfielder Allie LeClair said. “We really started to work together, and we’re starting to jell.”

LeClair made a brilliant play to set up the game-winning goal. With a little over three minutes left, she stole the ball from a Gardiner back about 40 yards from the goal along the left sideline. LeClair moved downfield and picked up a defender, but shook her and fed a pass to an unmarked Mackenzie Winslow, who knocked the ball in for the goal.

“We talked at halftime, because their man-to-man defense is so good, about being smart about passing off,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “We said, ‘Be smart about those passes. Don’t just take the shots.’ She did exactly what I asked them to do, and it happened the way I hoped it would happen.”

While the statistics were even (Gardiner had a 15-14 edge in shots and Winslow had a 6-5 advantage on penalty corners), the Black Raiders were able to attack Gardiner with breakaways. Uncharacteristically, the Tigers often left Winslow forwards unmarked in the circle.

“I think our defensive midfield, which is very strong, played a little tentative, worried more about defense than offense when we were on offense,” Gardiner coach Moe McNally said. “So consequently, it left holes at the top of the circle, and that’s where that ball came out just about every single time.”

But Gardiner’s offense was also effective, and Abby Dunn gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead when she converted a penalty stroke a little over eight minutes into the game. That lead held until there were two minutes left in the half, when Winslow’s Sarah Wildes sent home a rebound to tie the score.

“If you’ve got a minute left in the half, you don’t want to give up a goal. That just gets ya,” McNally said. “If we could have held them at the end of that first half and then gone into the second half up one, it might have made a little bit of a difference.”

Gardiner took the lead again when Madeline Reny stole the ball deep in the Winslow end and hit Brooke Davis for an easy goal with 14:29 left. But less than two minutes later, the Raiders cashed in a penalty corner, as Mackenzie Winslow passed to a wide-open Sarah Wildes for the goal.

That successful corner was a big deal for Winslow for many reasons. The Raiders had three consecutive corners earlier in the second half, but didn’t get a shot on any of them.

“That’s been a little bit of a nemesis the first couple games, but it’ll come,” Bourgoin said. “It’s just the beginning. There’s always work to do.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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